Bloomberg reports that Chinese and Spanish developers which want to build Africa’s biggest hydropower plant in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have agreed to form a single consortium in an accord which is likely to making the plan a reality.
The US$14-billion dam is part of a long-delayed project known as Grand Inga. A hydroelectric scheme at the dam is expected to harness as much as 40 GW of power from the Congo River. Inga III would generate 11 GW, meant primarily for South Africa, other African markets and Congo’s copper and cobalt miners.
According to Bruno Kapandji, the head of Congo’s Agency for the Development and Promotion of the Grand Inga Project (ADPI), activities to launch Inga III as soon as possible are being carried out with efficiency and determination, despite the consequences of Covid-19.
The door is not closed to other developers which can offer the required capacity and have proven experience with similar projects, Kapandji says.
In 2018, Joseph Kabila, the former president of DRC, appointed two Chinese and Spanish groups which had competed for the project as co-developers. His successor, Felix Tshisekedi, has yet to approve their proposal and it is unclear whether they will be granted exclusive rights to finance technical, environmental and social studies, as well as attract lenders.
The new accord signed this month brings the developers together into a consortium which comprises six Chinese companies, including China Three Gorges Corporation and a unit of State Grid Corporation, and AEE Power Holdings of Spain. It is reported that the Chinese firms will hold 75% of the shares and AEE will have 25%.
Tshisekedi said last year that he prefers to begin construction of an earlier, smaller version of the project with a capacity of 4,8 GW which could be expanded later – a plan which was endorsed by the African Development Bank, which urged Congo to proceed with the project. The Chinese and Spanish groups, however, believe the smaller plant would not be economically viable.